I remember something my youth pastor told us years ago. “Reading my Bible is now a daily discipline of mine which I encourage you all to adopt. I average about three days; whatever I’m studying in the Word will somehow pop up in my everyday life within three days of reading it. If God does so for me, He’ll likely do so for you as well.” Well, when you’re in Bible school sometimes it feels like all you do is read the Bible (a somewhat accurate exaggeration), so I think the ratio of 1 reading to 3 days is shortened dramatically. Or, at least, it was for me today. Not even 24 hrs after studying Exodus 5 and I saw its principles playing out in my life. However, since you have not spent the last 24 hours in my head, allow me to fill you in.
When I first read this story, I couldn’t decide whether it was gross or just weird. Quickly summarized version: Moses has just seen the bush and heard from the LORD and he has packed up his family (wife, Zipporah, and sons) and they’re headed off to Egypt, ready to do God’s will. And then verse 24 sneaks up out of nowhere, allowing the reader (that’s us) to see that there is definitely something going on behind-the-scenes. “Now it came about at the lodging place on the way [to Egypt] that the LORD met him [Moses] and sought to put him to death“. This seems completely off-the-wall, doesn’t it? Here’s Mo and fam faithfully trucking to Egypt, ready to face the unknown just because that’s what God told them to do, and God comes to their campsite and wants to kill Moses? What? Hold on, it gets even weirder.
How does Zipporah handle this out-of-the-blue situation? She circumcises her son. And “He [God] let him [Moses] alone“. Simple as that.
So now we have weird and kinda gross (I edited out the gross part). How could God trying to kill someone and a boy being circumcised have anything to do with my everyday, college girl life? It doesn’t, really, if you’re trying to pull Biblical facts directly into your life. However, I was/am studying this passage to pull out and apply timeless principles that fit any culture or lifestyle. And believe it or not, there is (at least) one to be found in this obscure, awkward story.
The heart of this principle lies in the answer to one question: Why was God seeking to kill Moses? He was doing God’s will, right? He was doing everything he should… Or was he? After careful examination, you realize something: Zipporah only circumcised one son, when she and Moses had two. So, if only one was circumcised, it’s a safe assumption that the other son (probably the first-born, Gershom) was already circumcised…. Bingo!
Our culture prizes focus and determination. Hard work is an essential element of the American dream. Even Christian/church culture values devotion, as we should. We are called to be Christ-followers, to “run with endurance the race that is set before us“, to lay “aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us” and to fix “our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of faith“. Obviously the Christian life requires devotion, and Moses was certainly devoted. He was epitome of dying to himself and living according to God’s will, right? He abandoned a predictable, steady lifestyle, moved from a stable environment in which to rear his children, left the only functional family he’d ever known and returned to the land filled with not-so-hot memories and the impossible looming before him, all because God said, “Go, I will be with you“. In fact, he was so devoted that he neglected his everyday responsibilities, like being a good dad. He had his eyes super-glued to the Egyptian horizon, so much so that he didn’t bother noticing that his youngest son wasn’t circumcised. But he was trying to do what God called him to, right? He had bigger, better, brighter things on his mind: God’s will (insert halo here). Why should an everyday chore cause God to stop Moses in his tracks? Hold that thought…
To pay the few bills I have (praise God for GCBI’s minimal tuition), I am working 21 hours a week at a local diner/down-home-cooking-hang-out as a waitress. This is my first experience in the food industry, and let me tell you, serving people from all walks of life has been the perfect supplemental vitamin to all that I’ve been learning in classes. Take today, for example. As some subconscious part of my mind was pondering emergency circumcision in the Arabian desert, the conscious, moving part of me was cleaning up after a large gathering of local ministry workers. They had just finished their weekly meeting, planning for an upcoming youth event that has enormous potential for bringing masses of young people into a relationship with our Savior. Great, right? All these people, varying in age, color, denomination, accent and life-experience, all uniting over the cause of providing an environment in which the Gospel can be shared on a large, impacting scale. Get’s a hearty, “Amen!” from me. But between my trips from the tables to the kitchen’s bus tray, my mind’s-eye started picking up on something happening behind the scenes.
Within minutes of the meeting’s ending, almost everyone had quickly cleared the room. All had left but two men, one mid-twenties, the other in his early forties. As I entered the room, I noticed these two men picking up chairs and tables, quietly restoring the room to order. And my mind flashed back to the desert….
Please understand, I have no grudge against the event board, in fact I admire their cause and devotion. It’s humbling to see people twice my age, with busy, involved lives, jobs and relationships, take time to pray, plan and coordinate an event for the benefit of my peers. But as the masses evaporated, I couldn’t help but see little Moseses pass by. Eyes intent upon the future, eager to see what God will do, prayerful and full of faith in God’s will, excited about their small part in it. Eyes up in the air, simple opportunity under their nose. And these two men were my inspiration, for they were the perfect fusion. Not to over-spiritualize things, but they both saw what God was going to do through them in the future, and what He could do through them right then. Not that they had to help me clean up, in fact, they had every right to leave. It was my job to clean up after them. But they saw an opportunity to help a sister in Christ, and took a few minutes and just did it.
God stopped Moses in the desert because He cares less about what we do for God than where our hearts our in relation to Him. Am I surrendered, completely? Am I willing to do whatever He asks of me? That means saying “yes” to both the great and the mundane. The being involved in ministry and doing your chores. The bringing a child/friend to the Lord and being nice to the girl in the drive-thru window. The Pharoah and the circumcision. A person surrendered to the Lord sees every opportunity as a chance to glorify God, big or small, because that’s how He sees it. (I have by no means mastered this, it’s just what God is teaching me right now. I can easily be just as, if not more, blind than Moses.) Success for a believer is obedience, and to God, respecting your parents and giving a stellar sermon are (in a lot of ways) one in the same.
How often do we do that? Are we so focused on what God is about to do, the needs He’s going to meet, that we ignore what needs could be met right now? So intent on the glamorous, most-impacting things we will be involved in, that we step right over opportunities for simple, daily faithfulness? What sons do we have that need circumcising?